Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 comes to the rescue of SCO Open Server in a VM!

After about two years ago to the day (plus or minus), I’ve finally gotten around to moving a friend’s ancient SCO OpenServer 5.0.5 to run on a modern operating system within a virtual machine.

My friend acquired a brand new Dell Xeon server with 8GB of memory and tonnes of disk space.  It came pre-installed with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. I got him to register with Red Hat Network and then set up the system and got it fully updated.  All’s well on that count.

Next was to take the experience from two years ago where I managed to install the SCO OpenServer 5.0.5 on a RHEL 5.4 system and make that happen in the latest and greatest of systems.

First was to create the ISOs of the CDs needed (dd if=/dev/cdrom of=NameOfCD.iso) and kept it in a directory for ISOs which I created in the /opt directory.

Second was to fire-up virt-manager (from the GUI so that my friend knows what is happening), and then go about creating a new VM. The virt-manager had problems to start up which puzzled me.  This is 2012 and this machine is a server class machine. It could not be that Dell shipped the machine with support for virtualization turned off in the BIOS, could it? Was I so wrong. For reasons I cannot explain, Dell chose to DISABLE support for virtualization in the BIOS even for this server class machine. I had to reboot the machine, go into the BIOS settings, enable the virtualization option and restart RHEL.

This time, firing up virt-manager worked like a charm and the proceeded to create a new VM.

The following screenshots are self-explanatory including the installation screens from SCO:

The key choices in the dialog boxes were as follows:

a) Check on the “Customize configuration before install”

b) Set Virt Type as qemu and Architecture to be i686

c) Change the NIC type to pcnet

d) Change the Video to vga

With those settings, the installation of the VM started.

The SCO installation is so archaic and ancient that it amazes me that I could still install it into a 21st century virtual machine! And kudos to the KVM and virt engineers!

As the SCO installation proceeds, there are few things that need to be chosen:

a) The installation device is an IDE CDROM on the secondary master.

b) When chosing the “Hard Disk Setup”, change the “Tracking” to “Bad Tracking Off”. This enormously speeds up the “formating” of the drive by SCO.

c) Change the “Network Card” to manual select and then chose “AMD PCNet-PCI Adapter”

d)And continue to the last screen and go ahead with installation.

So, a few minutes later, it is all installed and the system will shutdown.  You can then safely restart the VM and you should be in the default text console. Like any Linux machine, you do have alternate screens available by using the menu options of the VM window “Send Key” and send “Ctl-Alt-F1″ etc to the VM and it will switch to the various virtual consoles available.  

Once you are logged into the system, you can go ahead and use it.

I will follow-up with the installation of a product called “Throughbred 8.4.1” in a subsequent post.

In the meantime, if you have additional SCO CDs such as:

a) SCO-Optional-Services.iso, or

b) SCO-RS-505A.iso, or

c) SCO-SkunkWare.iso, or

d) SCO-Vision-2K.iso, and

e) SCO-Voyager-5-JDK.iso,

You can use Virt-Manager’s interface for the VM-in-question’s “Details” menu option and chose the CDROM option to connect to the ISO that is needed. Once it is linked up, switch over to the VM’s console, and assuming you are logged in as root, type in “mount /dev/cd0 /mnt” to mount it. For some reason, the first time I type the command it throws an error, and have to do it a second time when it succeeds. Then you have access to the ISO as a local CD.


  1. Harish,

    I guess that’s how Dell server pre-configured. I faced the same issue when installing CentOS 6.2 x64 in one of the Dell PowerEdge R300 server last week. The host OS is Windows Server 2003, so I chosed VirtualBox to install CentOS. I got the error message regarding VT-X. At first I was quite confused why a server class system could not handle 64-bit virtualization installation. Turn out, the virtualization is OFF. Hmm..

  2. Every machine I have every bought personally or professionally has had VT-x turned off in the bios by default. Maybe its some kind of standard?

  3. Thanks for the comments, Gary and dman2.

    I certainly want to know what the rationale would be to have the Virt capability turned off on a server class machine. Would it to pass some form of acceptance test at the factory?

    I wonder how other OEMs do this.

  4. I’ve seen it speculated that virtualization is disabled by default because a virus could use the virtualization extensions to hide itself from a guest operating system. The virus would set itself up as a hypervisor at boot and run your server OS inside a protected environment to hide itself.

    I haven’t seen that confirmed by an OEM, but it’s standard across OEMs as far as I know.

    • Thanks, Gordon for the comment. I would dispute that speculation. There is nothing about virt per se that a malware can do that it cannot do in a standard boot sequence. I would say it is a clever spin by some OEMs when asked why they disabled virt support in the bios at factory ship.

  5. Any idea why, when booting, the %disk line instead of finding the disk, displays the error hd: no root disk controller was found, when following your configuration? Every other line appears correct

  6. Halo,

    I’m newbie on linux. I would like to try running sco openserver 5.0.6 on virtual machine on linux. Regarding I don’t have RHEL 6.2, could we use Centos 6.2 or Centos 6.3 instead of RHEL 6.2.

    Need your help, because we still using program running on SCO OSR. Thank you for your help.

    We only need running SCO OSR and could connect the SCO OSR with our LAN network.

  7. Halo harish, thank you for information. I will try with my friend who have RHEL 6.2 on his backup server. Could you inform me detail of RHEL 6.2 setup needed and step by step more detail when install SCO Unix through my email if can. Thank you very much for your support and very thankful for your share information.

    As information, my friend server is Dell Poweredge 2850.

      • Halo Harish,

        We already install RHEL 6.2, but when we start virtual Manager, system said we need install qemu-kvm. We already try install using yum and update, but system said qemu-kvm not available. Any information how to install qemu-kvm, because we can not using virtual manager….thanks for your help….

  8. Harish,

    Thanks for some really hopeful and insightful posts.

    I have been managing a SCO 5.0.5 machine for years and have not been able to find anyone that has been able to successfully virtualize. So kudos!

    Similar to your friend, we run one legacy accounting application but our machine failed to boot this morning. Hopefully it’s a PSU issue and not motherboard. We’re working on it now.

    More critically, is there any possibility we could get in touch about virtualizing SCO 5.0.5. I would absolutely appreciate your help and without question would be willing to pay for your support and advice on the project.

    Let me know if you have any further questions.

    Take good care and many thanks.


  9. Hai everbody,
    I tried installing sco osr 505 on virtual box using windows 7 Host OS. Installed without problems. It very execllent for me i was running this os from 1998 onwards. I followed same steps. It successfull. Thanks very much.
    by chandra.

    • Good to know. Thanks for the comment, Chandra.

      I need a robust and secure VM hosting environment and so running it in a RHEL VM setup which provides all the needed security and manageability is my choice.

Leave a Reply